Let's recap the book launch x

Wow. For someone who has written a book, I am struggling to describe the magic that was the Keep Swimming Book Launch. On the 24th of May 2023, the official book launch for Keep Swimming was held at AVID Reader in West End. I never knew that an event like this would be part of my story, yet I am so glad that it is. 

On the morning of the launch, a friend had messaged saying that the event had sold out. I didn't believe her, so I checked with AVID Reader and she was right. The book launch had sold out at 80 people. AVID increased the capacity to 85, and those extra 5 tickets sold out too. I was in a disbelief. This meant that there would be friends, family AND complete strangers coming to the event. If my heart wasn't already overflowing from the feedback Keep Swimming has received, then it definitely was now. 

I checked in to my hotel that afternoon and slowly the nerves started to set in. This felt completely normal as I was about to tell my darkest times to people I have never met. Although, I knew I wasn't truly nervous to tell my story as no-one knows it better than me. There were already so many people coming to support me, the book and the message behind it, so I kept reminding myself of that while dancing to move that nervous energy through and out of my body. 

I arrived at the book launch at quarter to 6. The AVID staff were incredible. They immediately made me feel right at home. Guests started to arrive over the next half hour. I saw both familiar faces and faces I'd never seen before. At 6.30, the event started and the lovely Eleanor from AVID gave a beautiful introduction before passing the mic on to me. 

This was it. This was my moment. Leading up to my talk I knew exactly what I needed to say and what the important parts were. I also knew I had to let it flow and come from my heart, and it did. I spent the next 30 minutes being completely open and vulnerable in sharing my struggles, my journey with mental health, how I kept swimming and how the book came to surface. I had finally shared my complete truth with people who might not have initially understood the decisions I have made but would now know that every step I make is in an effort to look after my mental health. 

The talk was followed by question and answers from the audience. This is truly where I saw how powerful being vulnerable can be. By sharing my journey with mental health, it created a safe space for the audience to share their struggles with not only me, but everyone else around them. It takes incredible strength to open up to a stranger and share the hard times, so I feel incredibly honoured that everyone felt safe and supported in doing so. I was asked such important questions by people in the crowd who I didn’t know but felt extremely connected to. I was shown, yet again, just how powerful human connection is. 

This continued when the book signings started. The amount of feedback I received truly left me speechless. People came up to thank me, shared their struggles and many shared that I had helped them. In the space of just 30 minutes, my story had helped. I am so grateful for each and every one of you who came to the launch that night. You have shown me that I need to continue down this path. 

I am in an incredibly fortunate position where I have found my voice and am able to share what I've been through. I feel more empowered than ever to continue to use my voice to shed light on the reality of mental health and to give others hope. I know that I need to be a voice for the voiceless. I need to use my voice for those that can't. If my story can help just one person to feel safe, seen and understood then I will keep telling it. 

The book launch of Keep Swimming was hands down the most beautiful moment of my life. I cannot believe that at 29 years old, I have survived my mental illness and have heard the words, "You've helped me," after launching my very first book. I am so grateful I am here to experience the beauty this life has to offer.

Thank you all for being a part of this journey - I appreciate you all. 

Keep shining and remember, you are never alone x 

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